Japanese government figures show that more children killed themselves in the first seven months of this year than in the same period last year.
The health ministry says 270 elementary to senior high school students killed themselves from January to July this year.
That’s up 29 from the same period in 2020, when the number for the entire year hit a record-high 499 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Of those who died through July this year, seven were in elementary school, 75 in junior high and 188 in senior high.
An expert panel of the education ministry that analyzed last year’s situation cited the pandemic’s impact.
The experts said school closures due to the pandemic forced children to stay home for long periods, possibly adding to the suffering of those who felt uneasy or had other trouble with family members.
They also said children were deprived of opportunities to have a sense of achievement from activities at school, or had difficulty finding people to consult.
School teachers and members of support groups have a growing sense of urgency as the number of child suicides often rises at this time of year, after the summer holidays.
They’re trying to support children by offering them a place to belong to and helping them build ties with others. They also stress the importance of education in encouraging troubled children to seek help.